From A Director’s Perspective

True love? Yup. Violence? Uh-huh. Twist ending? Sure thing. “Paper Thin” had all the qualities of a regular Drama Lab, but there was one thing that set it apart for me– I directed it. “Paper Thin,” written by Lindsay Price, was the third Drama Lab I’ve directed at Phillips Academy. I got addicted to directing after my first show, “The Sin-Eater.” Although I’m not usually the loudest person in a crowd, even I have to admit that there’s something wonderful in ordering a bunch of actors around. But what I love most about directing is the feeling I get as I watch the script I’ve chosen come to life. Initially, I had no intention of directing “Paper Thin.” I’m always been more into weird plays involving magic or aliens or death or a combination of the three. But after the producers encouraged me to branch out a little, I spent hours reading short plays until I came across “Paper Thin.” “Paper Thin” is a fifteen-minute scene about a young couple, Sweetie (played by Lily Shaffer ’10) and Punkin (played by Demetrius Lalanne ’11). Sweetie and Punkin have made a game out of eavesdropping on their quarrelsome neighbors. But their entertainment takes an unpleasant turn the night the next-door husband (Scott Sanderson ’09) slaps his wife (Hannah Turk ’09). Since the play went up two weeks after spring break, I knew I really ought to get my scenic design and blocking down over break. But, as I conveniently forgot the script in my desk at school, I spent the first few days (and nights) after break working non-stop on the show. My actors were the ones who pulled me through the hectic rehearsals. They asked more questions than I believed possible and informed me right away if some bit of blocking I’d asked them to do didn’t make sense. Although the barrage of questions and comments was sometimes frustrating, the pressure did help me make decisions that I might otherwise have kept putting off. Scheduling rehearsals was a delicate process. Between crew, chorus and community service, there were precious few time slots when everyone was available. I usually ended up having separate rehearsals for the different couples. One Friday night, Demetrius, Lily, my stage manager, Erica Harris ’09, and I decided to meet for a rehearsal in Tang. Demetrius ordered pizza, Lily sipped water from her Sigg water bottle when the script called for her to take a swig of champagne, and we ended up having such a great time that we rehearsed for almost three hours straight. Breaking things also turned out to be an issue, since Scott wreaks his apartment in a scene. During one rehearsal, he broke both the coat rack and the table. Since that was the only time the table had broken during all of our rehearsals, I figured it was freak accident, and I gave Scott the go-ahead to throw the table again. This turned out to not be such a smart move, since the table broke again. Scott ended up having to gently place the table on the ground during the actual performance, but it just didn’t have quite the same effect. However, only one thing really concerns me about “Paper Thin”; it didn’t really feel like my show. So many different people helped bring about the play, from my producer, Even DelGaudio ’08, to my roommate. Yes, I decided to do this show; yes, I chose these actors; yes, I was the one who figured out the lighting and most of the blocking. However, I just feel guilty for claiming “Paper Thin” as my own. It was a tiny part mine, but, in the end, I shared it with my peers.